Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mid-Winter Weather Leaves Time For Increasing Knowledge

As January continues its inexorable move to February and the ongoing winter weather prevents me from getting outdoor riding time, I find myself enjoying opportunities to read about this varied topic of cycling. I've been quite impressed with the many different aspects of two wheeled self-powered interests. Whether you are into cycling for fitness, or as a lifestyle choice, for fun, or as a committment to your community, there is an abundance of information available if we merely put fingers to keyboard. I've particularly been interested in reading up on the activities of the N.C. Bicycle Committee and seeing the extensive time and planning that go into projects. As with so much of our governmental functions, I had no idea that there was a significant dedication of time and effort to bicycling in N.C. You can find a link to this committee's work under my favorite links section. Our local representative, Claudia Nix of Liberty Bikes, is quite busy advocating for our needs.

On the local level here in Western North Carolina, I would like to see US 276 from Waynesville south to at least the intersection with NC 110 in Bethel widened sufficiently to provide riding lanes for cyclists. Based upon my riding last year, the width of NC 110 north from Bethel to Canton is wide enough for both powered vehicles and cyclists to safely share the road. I can't recall a single incident where I was crowded out last year on NC 110 or screamed at by some passing motorist, who had been inconvenienced by my being on the road. On the other hand, US 276 has minimal shoulder width and has a high traffic count with a 55 mph speed limit. I tend to ride it as little as possible because of the increased danger levels. A wider and safer shoulder from Waynesville to Bethel would tie the two communities together for biking and could create some excellent routes for riding. It would certainly add an opportunity for some significant climbs as you would have to traverse the mountain separating Waynesville and Bethel through Pigeon Gap. It would open up opportunities for communting that are pretty tenuous now. Of course, should wider shoulders be constructed at some point, it would require that the local DOT maintain them and keep them clear of roadside debris and gravel thrown up at connecting driveways. The one issue of riding the wider shoulders of NC 110 is having to dodge the ever present tires, discarded trash, etc. that accumulates on the shoulder.

January 20th is almost upon us and that will bring the big day in Washington to the forefront of our collective consciousness. I hope that Obama is able to maintain his committments to the environment and to alternative transportation, which will hopefully increase the infrastructre for cycling. While President-elect Obama is becoming President Obama, Lance Armstrong will be making his first big return to competitive cycling. I've enjoyed monitoring his comeback via several on-line sources. Armstrong made a promise to keep his training and efforts to climb back to the elite level open and available. From my perspective, he has certainly stuck to his word! It will be interesting to see how he does at the Tour Down Under from both how he performs individually and how his presence affects the Astana team. I'll have to keep an eye on VERSUS TV at 4:00 p.m. EST each day as I understand they will be doing a 30 minute recap of the Tour's daily events. You can catch up on the Tour Down Under news, as well as, lots of other competitive cycling news at Velo News.

I'm eager to see what today's weather brings. As we went to bed last night, it was 29 degrees and snowing. We appear to have warmed up slightly overnight to 34 degrees as I write this posting at 7:30 a.m. I'm really ready for a break from the 1 to 2 degree above zero weather we've had the last several days. I have a feeling that even with warmer temps today, I'll still find plenty of time for reading... I think it is time for that second up of coffee!

Until later,

--Zeke
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